The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: music composition (Page 1 of 4)

G Squared: Gregory & Gavin

– continuing with the musical pokes and prods – re: “…David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov who lead to Gavin Luke” –

After a trip down snowy Raton Pass memories, my musical (re)search landed me at the merging of a folk/classical piece performed by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra in conjunction with contemporary folk-pop artist, Gregory Alan Isakov. Thus introducing me to a new-to-me younger generation of folkies.

Note: the YouTube featured here is the only media readily available on-line with the CSO/GAI arrangement-performance of this piece. That said, watching it isn’t as important as just listening to this IMHO.

Isakov’s The Stable Song, as performed with the CSO is the type of musical collaboration that excites me as a musician.

Performing in and composing for mixed ensembles has been and continues to be one of my deepest passions as a working musician. Back in the day, it was more unusual for instrumentalists of differing genres to play together in performance or to hear ensembles of unlikely instrumentation in concert outside the University music department recital setting.

It appears these types of cross-over collaborations are becoming more mainstream* – to the delight of musicians and audiences alike.
But that has always been my bent. And upon my life’s reflection, I’m thinking I was perhaps even born into it.

My Dad as a professional jazzman on sax and clarinet was always up for a jam session with me, his daughter, on 12-string acoustic and/or classical guitar. For awhile there we even made the rounds in small performance circles as 3D: Dad Daughter Duo. Our set list comprised of standards, show tunes, contemporary pop, Latin, country, classical repertoire – you name it – with my classical guitar solos and/or 12-string acoustic folkie riffs alternating with his show stopping improvised tenor sax and/or clarinet solos dancing rings around my chordal vamps…Yeah I was born into this.

Finding that sweet-spot key where the natural intonation of disparate instruments sound good while playing together is a greatly rewarding endeavor.
I find it deeply satisfying, stretching the sonic boundaries via unconventional instrumentation and encountering others who explore that same territory in myriad ways.

Included with that exploration is my fascination with anything related to ‘prepared’ instruments. A technique I first encountered during my music school days, John Cage‘s forays into this altered soundscape has since given birth to a wide range of instrument manipulation in the name of New Music. Again, there is cutting edge and then there is what is palatable for mainstream.

Enter Gavin Luke, composer. More of a New Age pianist/composer, I stumbled onto his piece, In Search of Home, while perusing a composer website. The main theme of his piece is compelling, but what I found most interesting was the simple use of felt sheets in his ‘prepared’ piano as central to his composition.

Note: the YouTube featured here is a short 2.5 minutes long in which Gavin demonstrates his process in the creation of this piece.


While I appreciate the creative process as shared by compadre (he)artists regardless of genres, the take-away for me in this case was a surprising appearance of my poetic muse…

to be shared at another time
😎

*In order to keep this post shorter and to my intended points, I did not go into depth on the well-known, well-received and highly successful collaborations between unlikely genres & musicians over the years such as The Beatles & orchestral musicians/eastern instruments just to name one example.

Snowin' on Raton


One of the things I do on a regular basis is search and discover ‘new’ (to me) music via a myriad of ways…all part of being a working musician – seeking, learning, creating.
A fine example of this occurred recently. As noted in a prior post, CNN’s short video in tribute to David Olney lead me to seek out more of his music. Which lead me to two other seemingly unrelated musicians/composers. I say ‘seemingly’ because I haven’t a clue as to how I arrived at their respective websites/youtube channels/streaming stations but some invisible google-ly algorithm guided me based upon something related to its way of calculating.
I know standard streaming sites routinely offer up an ‘if you like X, then try Y’ approach to new music seekers. However, my pokes and prods seem more organic, focused, personal – with a touch of human (mine) direction in the seeking. In addition, it is not limited to a particular platform.
Anyway, David Olney lead to Gregory Alan Isakov * who lead to Gavin Luke.*
And then I discovered an unexpected related theme – that of home.
David Olney was an itinerant wanderer, Gregory Alan Isakov is a transplanted Boulderite (my hometown) and Gavin Luke is a composer whose style draws deep home yearnings front and center.
Olney’s cover of Snowin’ on Raton** reminds me of all the traveling back and forth between hubby’s and my family homes…driving over Raton Pass in all types of weather from Colorado to New Mexico and back again from New Mexico to Colorado.
Specifically, two significant snow times come to mind.

1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops

1977 Cutlass Supreme w T-Tops, image from google

  1. January 1979. Just a little over 6 months into our newlywed-ness, we packed all our belongings in the smallest sized U-Haul trailer and hitched it onto hubby’s 1977 Burnt Orange Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Brougham (complete with T-tops and other extras). Moving in the winter was dicey but needful as hubby was set to resume studies at NMSU that semester requiring our move from Boulder, CO to Las Cruces, NM to begin our new married-student phase of life. He, as an older student to finish his CS degree on the last of his GI Bill (at that time, NMSU was on the cutting edge as one of the few Universities to offer a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science Program). And me, to forge a more direct relationship with my in-laws in hubby’s hometown while exploring our own new surroundings filled with endless possibilities. On the day of our move, we expertly navigated the increasingly dense low visibility January snow storm conditions. We even managed to slip (pun intended) into the climbing lane as we began the long steep grade over the pass…before CDOT closed I25 behind us. Yep, we were the last vehicle allowed on the road to mount up and over Raton Pass into NM. Suffice it to say, we jackknifed only once on the steady upward climb and managed a controlled descent on the other side of the pass into Raton, NM.
  2. January 1982. After hubby graduated in December and with our firstborn less than 4 weeks old, we packed up that same Cutlass – with more precious cargo this time around. The plan was to move back temporarily to CO to stay with my folks while waiting for more details concerning hubby’s new job at HP in the Silicon Valley to determine exactly where we’d be relocating. Again, a January snowstorm. Again, slipping past the road closure signs as the last vehicle going up and over the pass. Safely strapped into her rear facing car seat, our newborn baby girl who’d been sound asleep for most of the trip opened her eyes with a start and immediately began her screaming cries as we began our ascent. She sensed the tension of our situation – and added to it – all the way up & over Raton Pass. This newborn Mother could not – dared not – pick her up to nurse her back to calm – and was thusly initiated into the lifelong Sturm und Drang slice of what it means to be a Mom.

And those are the snowy times when we drove Raton Pass and where listening to Snowin’ on Raton many years hence intersect – hitting squarely through my heart –
Missing home. Missing our baby daughter.

*will discuss these two in a later post
**composer/lyricist: Townes Van Zandt

SwS project status & my basic music score editing process

4/6 'Final Finals' music scores 100% finished!

4/6 ‘Final Finals’ music scores 100% finished!


First off, I’m thrilled to announce that 4 of the 6 ‘Final Finals’ music scores mentioned in the previous post are 100% finished. Nestled in their respective PDFs, each are ready to be distributed in multiple media formats when the time comes. Their timing is intertwined with the release of both the vignette and recorded music parts of related content from the overall SwS project.
That said, the Goat Suite (Saga) scores are not even ‘Final Finals’ yet even though the music has been recorded and ready for mastering since 2017 and the related vignettes are now nearing the formatting stage for publication. The original scores are still scruffy with scribbles from the recording sessions.
Given that Swimming with Swans: Goat Suite (Saga) will be the first section of the project to be released, those scores are now top priority for beginning the Final editing process. For a sense of what’s involved, my Goat Suite (Saga) is written for 2 classical guitars, mandolin, 12-string acoustic guitar and rain stick. I have the Master Score pretty much done, but the details specific to each individual part need to be entered onto each of the extracted part scores.
Here then, is an overview of my basic music score editing process, as promised.

  1. Enter original hand scored piece in NOTION – just the notes, no dynamics, interpretive suggestions, fingerings, etc.
  2. Fix weird quirks that NOTION places in score regardless of how info is entered (ie-stem direction, rests, location of text info, etc.)
  3. Print it out and play from that score to approach fingerings with a fresh eye and jot down
  4. Add fingerings, and simple dynamics in NOTION, print out for spacing/alignments and jot down by hand extra needs for score as play through it.
  5. Continue with edits (#2, #3 & #4) with an eye for keeping the score uncluttered and easy to read for the player yet filled with the needed information.
  6. Add title, composer, dedication, copyright, etc. info and arrange text nicely on score, sometimes defying NOTION conventions.
  7. If composition has more than one instrument, extract each part from Master Score for individual print out.
  8. Print Master Score and any extracted parts scores to PDF and print out to proof.
  9. Proof as needed.
  10. Repeat #5, #8 and #9 until becomes a true FINAL, then print to PDF.

Using my arrangement of Mo Giolla Mear as an example, here are photo’s of the process continuing from its mention in a previous post.

The following two score photos correspond to steps #1, #2 and #3 of the basic process overview:

My hand scored copies alongside newly entered NOTION scored parts of Mo Giolla Mear

My hand scored copies alongside (then) newly entered NOTION scored parts of Mo Giolla Mear


Mo Giolla Mear excerpt

The next score excerpt photo corresponds to steps #5 & #6 – check out measure 8 for an easy to see example of a stem direction fix in addition to the overall inclusions of fingerings, dynamics, etc.

Mo Giolla Mear edited excerpt

 This last score excerpt photo corresponds to step #10 and is from the final PDF:

3 Mo Giolla Mear Final Excerpt

 Whew! I hope this answers some of the questions you my readers have asked about what it means when I mention ‘doing score edits.’ Much like literary edits, it can be tedious but the end result is the pot of gold at the base of a very beautiful rainbow.

Insights into the creative life…Quotes

Couldn’t have said it  better myself…the following quotes by J. Michael Dolan

Uptight, Worked Up & Edgy!

Every single day, a plan, a plot, a project, a scheme or a great idea screams to be on the front burner: A song that needs to be recorded. A video that needs to be shot. A business deal that needs a push. A website that needs to be built or updated. A relationship that needs to be dealt with.

Important because sometimes our best-laid plans work out, far beyond our expectations. Other times they fall apart and fade away. That’s the nature of a creative, independent lifestyle. However, truth be told, it’s all those big plans, worthy projects and bright ideas that we’re NOT doing that continue to keep us uptight, worked up and edgy.

Two Fisted Advantage
(italics mine)

If you’re a regular reader of my blogs & stories you already know that I’m a huge advocate for artists & entrepreneurs. That’s because I’ve been both all my life and in my world there’s no difference between the two. They both dwell in the land of uncertainty and risk and they both have to use creativity and innovation to negotiate their way through it. That’s not all…

A songwriter (composer) composes the music he hears in his head.
An entrepreneur creates a vision for the future that she sees in her mind’s eye.

A painter prepares a canvas for her next artistic expression.
An entrepreneur prepares a Powerpoint presentation for his next keynote.

A writer processes words that stimulate and entertain.
An entrepreneur processes words that motivate and inspire.

A singer (instrumentalist) nervously stands in front of his audience and shares his soul.
An entrepreneur nervously stands in front of her shareholders and shares her vision.

Neither one would last long in a regular 9-5 job because both have a relentless muse and an untamable creative spirit which they simply MUST follow. And unlike others, A&E’s have an advantage: the unique ability to devise, create, invent, fabricate, formulate, manifest and cook-up ways to make a buck.

Important because if our world ever crashes, it will be the crazy, genius artists and risk-taking entrepreneurs who will survive to inspire us and point the way out of the rubble and into the light.

ToDoTuesdayTwo

Even though I feel like there’s not much to report, I’m chiming in on this week’s linky-party for the sake of continuity. And, remember, Roseanne at Home Sewn by Us who sponsors this says it’s okay however I decide to participate!

~~~

My creativity trinity* is as follows: fiber art – MUSIC – writing. Each is intertwined with the other, offering needful respites between projects which in turn aid in the completion of various Works-In-Progress as new perspectives appear from such respites. Ultimately, it’s all about the music but tracking fiber art Works-In-Progress is lots easier to communicate in such a setting as this and hence the linky-party connection.

My goals for the week from August 20th through August 26th:

  • Continue edits on various NOTION scores  – “Christmas Medley” almost finished and soon to move onto another score-edit
  • Finish PFWHK Ø – decidedly not finished!
  • Maybe have something to post on next week’s ToDo Tuesday linky party  – today’s posting is evidence of this!

Yes, I worked on NOTION score edits for the “Christmas Medley” piece and realized I needed to de-clutter the score by 80% of previously inserted information. There is a delicate balance in music scoring between suggested fingerings and performance directions and OCD control of the performers every interpretation of the musical score. The fact that I de-cluttered a slew of fingerings shows I am closer to completion than before. In fact, with this particular piece, I have only to recheck for notation mistakes (think of this as being like ‘spell-checking’ the score) and add the fun stuff like title, arranger/name, date, copyright and dedication (if so choose to do). Then it is done and onto another piece to score-edit.
The PFWHK is not finished. Duh. In fact, as I continued with the vertical machine quilting, I found myself making dumb mistakes. So, I wisely decided to quit while I was ahead. Meaning: I did a few lines of reverse-sewing and set the PFWHK aside for another day/week. The interesting thing of note here is that the reverse-sewing (okay, seam-stitch ripping out!) went smoothly and left absolutely no small holes in the fabric top or back. I think that is due to two things: 1- the quality of the fabric itself and 2- the use of fine 60 wt thread in the bobbin.

~~~~

ToDo for the week of August 27th through September 3rd:

  • Finish “Christmas Medley” and start another NOTION score-edit piece
  • Finish PFWHK vertical quilting, start 3-D portion of project, figure out something special to add to PF’s eye (button, sequins?)
  • Enjoy a time to snuggle down and read newest novel(s)
  • If it’s cool enough (big IF), share some porch-time with hubby and a glass of Chardonnay (me), Beaujolais (him)
’Home

 
* a term I invented recently

Giving Voice: Gaelynn Lea, Violinist

Friday, July 26th was the 29th anniversary of the signing of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. It was also the day I first learned of a remarkable musician on the PBS Newshour – Gaelynn Lea, Violinist.

Notable quotes from her interview:

“Adaptive music is not as common (as adaptive sports) but I hope that it becomes more common.”

on playing the violin:

“I realize that you probably don’t know unless you have a disability that you spend every day modifying everything. I’m not concerned with doing it the way everyone does it, because I can’t really do anything the way other people do it. So, for me, finding a way to play violin was just a matter of time.”

The final set of lyrics to her newest release, “I Wait” written in defense of the Affordable Care Act, protecting those with preexisting conditions:

“We need a seat now at the table, so please invite us.
Or
Don’t pretend to care.”

(He)art at its best

Just finished a fantastic time on the practice stool with the Prisloe.

Again.

(He)art at its best.

I’ve had a long string of days blissfully playing and practicing, composing and creating, with a focus on deep working through pieces yet to be recorded.
And all profoundly satisfying with more in store tomorrow and the next day and the next…

(He)art at its best.

Jude, their polydactyl cat

Jude, their polydactyl cat


Mon Ami #? (family name handed down throughout the budgies)

Mon Ami #? (family name handed down throughout the budgies)


Since settling in our daughter Michelle and son-in-law David’s home – house and pet sitting during their reunion vacation in Cote d’Ivoire* – my music has been asserting itself from deep within, taking center stage.

(He)art at its best.

Before leaving FloTown, I worked through fingerings, adding dynamics and interpretive notation to my scores for use in the Swimming with Swans Music Folio part of the total SwS project. I focused entirely on the task of getting those scores closer to publishing perfection. Often with the Prisloe in one hand and the other on the computer keyboard entering it all on the NOTION score program. Then taking that needed info and tweaking it on the page so it looks nice and uncluttered**.
This is the grunt work that occurs after the ‘fun’ part of creation. Kind of like the next-to-final, another next-to-final and yet another next-to-final edit before the truly-final edit of an author’s WIP***.

(He)art at its best.

I promised myself I’d get back into the delights of daily practice focusing on technique, exercises, etudes, sight reading, exploratory composition and learning new repertoire once we left FloTown and arrived at our destination.
I promised my music (and the Prisloe) this same reward for waiting patiently even though her cries for attention were persistent and enticing.

(He)art at its best.

And you know what? The music is rewarding me! Unleashing continuous waves of inspiration, direction and ‘living water****’ spilling forth from my (he)art through my fingers and into being.

Shelby their whippet-mutt, a WIP by Michelle

Shelby their whippet-mutt, a WIP by Michelle

~~~~~

END NOTES:

* Michelle has been gathering her last batch of data/research for her PhD thesis these past months in Cote d’Ivoire and David is joining her for a final week vacation before their return to the States.
** click here for a great article on how much notation is enough notation, if you’re a composer/musician this will be interesting for sure.

*** click here for a similar process as applied towards visual artists
**** “(S)He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his/her innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:38
Yes, He is my source…

Reaching the Finish Line and Zeno’s Paradox

I have always been intrigued with Zeno’s paradoxes. Specifically, his Dichotomy paradox. As a mathematical concept it offers a glimpse into the world of infinity – an abstract concept of boundlessness – and by way of my own extrapolation: eternity – a reality outside of time, with no beginning and no end.

Yep, math is very cool*. People just don’t give it a chance.
We (I) tend to think of infinity as uncontained largeness, which it is, but Zeno’s paradox reveals another slice of that same infinity. Infinity as uncontained minuteness.
Mr. Zeno’s Dichotomy paradox simply stated says, Before an object can travel a given distance, it must travel half that distance then in order to travel that half distance, it must travel a quarter of that distance, etc. Since this sequence goes on forever, it therefore appears that the given distance cannot be traveled.
The way it was demonstrated to me back in the day was to stand a set distance from a wall, then take a step halfway towards that wall, then from that halfway point take another step halfway, and again until your nose is against that wall, but still some half of a half of an infinite half distance from that wall!
In this 21st century, I am a living example of Zeno’s paradox.
It seems I’m in a constant state of being ‘almost finished’ with various projects.
To be clear, I am not talking about confusing perfectionism with professionalism in the (he)artistic creation process. There is a time when something is truly done and learning to know when to stop ‘futzing’ with a project is part of that process.
What I am talking about is how my projects get ‘done, except for…’. Which then get ‘done except for’ something else then on and on until my nose is up against that wall and I’m staring down an infinite number of ‘except fors’.
Oh, I know that’s not truly a real-life application of Zeno’s paradox, but it sure feels like it. The infinity aspect of it certainly, but the frustration of projects never getting to the finish line – achingly acute.
Most of the time the ‘except fors’ are dependent upon some other factors that I cannot control which only adds discouragement to frustration.
Case in point, Mr. Zeno came to remembrance a couple months ago while I was ‘futzing’ with the liner notes for my upcoming Swimming with Swans: Goat Suite (Saga) cd (who knows anymore when it will be released :-().
I had all my ducks in a row – the artwork, layout, format chosen, and wav. files ready for replication, but there were just too many other obstacles asserting themselves, blocking the finish line. All ‘done, except for’ factors beyond my control – thus, hindering completion of the actual cd packaging and its release anytime soon.
But those liner notes, hey man, let me nit-pick/futz with those because I can control all of that.
In general, once I realize I’m in a Zeno’s infinite loop of frustration, I search for some other unfinished bits that can be readily completed if I take the time to focus on them. In my small multipurpose studio, such projects are easily seen and found.

Three different blocks

l-r: experiment in color & design limited to neutrals found in on-sale jellyroll pack; my take using the tiny flying geese border on ‘Red Rocks’ block; study in yellows using scraps in my usual free form piecing style


In this instance, my eyes strayed away from the practice stool and computer screen to the three quilt blocks laid out on my flannel design wall. They are each from three different projects and have been on the periphery of my quilting focus. I decided long ago to sew them the way they were arranged, but just wasn’t motivated to finish them.
In the name of surviving yet another cycle of Zeno’s dichotomy, I took to completing them and packing them away for later use in their respective projects.
That felt good.
And then that positive completion experience refueled my determination to work on a different slice of the overall SwS project while the aforementioned slice(s) are on hold. I opened my NOTION score files of related Swimming with Swans music and resumed editing several of those music scores in preparation for future inclusion in the project’s accompanying Music Folio.
That feels even better! 🙂

~~~~~~~~~

*Just for fun:

The dichotomy paradox leads to the following mathematical joke. A mathematician, a physicist and an engineer were asked to answer the following question. A group of boys are lined up on one wall of a dance hall, and an equal number of girls are lined up on the opposite wall. Both groups are then instructed to advance toward each other by one quarter the distance separating them every ten seconds. When do they meet at the center of the dance hall? The mathematician said they would never actually meet because the series is infinite. The physicist said they would meet when time equals infinity. The engineer said that within one minute they would be close enough for all practical purposes.

Giving Voice: Spirit of God

Seen on a billboard in the Denver Metro area between Wadsworth & Kipling on I-70W.
Summer, 2018:

“Fear is contagious…so is hope.” 

1977 spring break, hardin montana, laura bruno

Me (Laura Bruno) Spring Break, 1977, Hardin, Montana – photo Terry Friedlander (Griffin)

The above ‘quote’ prompted me to dig out this piece* I had a hand in creating back in the day. Yes, there’s a story behind its creation and yes, it’s a few decades old and yes, the recording is kinda funky…but the point is, it just seems like it’s time to share it with you my readers and little listers…perhaps its message will speak peace & hope to you this day.

Spirit of God (circa 1977)
Bill & Jim Griffin – instrumentals & vocals
Laura Bruno (Lilly)- lyrics & melody

When the Spirit of Truth comes
He will guide you
Can you hear Him calling?

No one knows where the Spirit goes
or how He moves
Can you hear Him calling?

When you’re lonely
and cold inside
Let Him woo you.

Spirit of God
Fall down
Let Your love surround
Show us Your way

Behold the Spirit shall dwell within you
and He will comfort you
Can you hear Him calling?

He now leads into all righteousness
He now convicts the world
Can you hear Him calling?

When you’re walking
and standing tall
Let Him woo you.

Spirit of God
Fall down
Let Your love surround
Show us Your way

When the Spirit of Truth comes
He will guide you
Can you hear Him calling?

No one know where the Spirit goes
or how He moves
Can you hear Him calling?

When you’re lonely
and cold inside
Let Him woo you

Spirit of God
Fall down
Let Your love surround

Show us Your way

Spirit of God

Fall Down

Holy Spirit DoveJohn 16:13

* Thank you, Bill & Jim, for your agreement & support in the posting of our ‘shared’ piece.

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